GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Five white cars rolled down South Carolina Avenue Saturday night as a large neighborhood party was just starting to break up.
A man with an automatic weapon appeared from the sunroof of the first car. Others with guns leaned out of the windows of others.
More than 100 shots were then fired into the crowd. Amazingly, only 4 people were hit.
One of those,18-year-old Robert Tatum of Biloxi, died. Police found his body in the street with a gunshot to the head. The three others struck by bullets were not seriously injured. Police also said two other people suffered additional injuries that were not gunshots.
Gulfport Police have charged two suspects, Brandon Walker, 20, and Sukrani Blakely, 19, with one count each of tampering with evidence related to the shooting. No other suspects have been arrested at this time.
Blakey and Walker both bonded out of jail after posting a $5,000 bond, according to the sheriff department’s website.
The party was organized by parents of high school and college graduates. They expected a crowd of about 125 but it grew to around 300. They had hired private security and had walkie-talkies to stay in touch with each other. Shortly before midnight, the police were called to the party because of the loud music.
“The noise complaint was rectified," said Gulfport police detective Jason DuCre'. "People were having a good time, then the officers left and then this happened.”
Organizers had decided to shut the party down after the police left. Shots rang out just a few minutes later.
“We were all partying and then I just seen people running and I started running,” said Kanaya Crosby, 17, a Gulfport High School senior who lives down the street from where the party was. “I ran into the house and then after that it was just gunshots.”
DuCre’ said police have videos of the incident.
“The videos we’ve received, you can hear multiple calibers of different guns, we know there were multiple shooters.”
Augustine Sanders was awakened by the sound of the gunfire.
“We just stayed low until it stopped,” she said. when she looked out the window she saw "kids running everywhere, kids hiding all up under the cars.
“It turned from a fun graduation party to chaos.”
Bullet holes can be found in houses up and down the street.
Pedro Williams has a bullet hole in his car and several in his house. One bullet came through the wall and into his refrigerator. The bullet came to rest in a potato.
“I had to throw my wife to the ground,” Williams said. “The bullets were flying.”
“We have a lot of shell casings, in both directions,” DuCre’ said. “It appears that some were from cars and some firearms were discharged from land, from the street.”
Councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines spoke with residents of the neighborhood on Sunday. She said many of them were in shock over the incident.
“It’s a family-oriented neighborhood and that’s really what has them the most concerned with, that their peace, it’s been violated. That’s not something that those residents are going to get over easily," said Holmes-Hines. "And so I’ve made calls to see if we can get counseling just right there in the community. Counseling is very much needed for what they have gone through.”
Holmes-Hines is working with Habitat for Humanity to see if they can repair the damage to the houses. The houses on the street were built as a Habitat Village after Hurricane Katrina.
She said she hopes people with information will contact police to help them solve this shooting that has shaken the previously peaceful street.
If anyone has any information about this shooting, please contact Gulfport Police Department at 228-868-5959. Anonymous tips can also be made to Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers online or by calling 877-787-5898.
*An earlier version of this story said 6 people were shot. Authorities clarified on Monday that 4 people were shot, including the teen who died, and 2 others had injuries not caused by gunshots.*